MAKING CENTS: Plan to avoid the pressure on Communion day

FIRST Holy Communions are on the horizon. Parents can feel under pressure to produce the day of days for their son or daughter so plan ahead to avoid struggling with the cost.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) are so accustomed to hearing from families under financial pressure at this time that they have produced a leaflet for families on how to prepare for the big day — you can download it from mabs.ie.

It includes a budget sheet that lists all the possible different areas of expenditure for your child’s communion — from outfits to clothes to gifts for other children.

Even if the big day isn’t for another couple of months it is well worth sitting down and completing the planner now. It will give you a clear idea on what everything is going to cost and will give you a chance to spread the spending between now and the day itself.

If the final figure you reach is out of your budget range then go back over each item and look at areas where you can reduce costs.

When it comes to clothes some will go nuts on designer outfits, particularly for the girls. But your child will be equally as beautiful and special to you no matter what they’re wearing — check out the department stores for fabulous outfits that don’t break the bank.

Dunnes Stores are carrying a Communion range from Paul Costelloe Living. Dresses are priced at between €70 and €100 — with accessories from €5. Debenhams have a Communion range from John Rocha — with boy’s waistcoat, shirt and tie sets available from €38.50.

If you’re an online shopper there are a multitude of options available — try eBay for bargains or Etsy.com for quirky alternatives. If there has been a wedding in your extended family recently, could the bridal or flower girl accessories be handed on?

Another way to reduce pressure is to include relatives in the outfit. Adults are forever giving out about the kids getting too much money on the day so why not ask grandparents or aunts and uncles to buy the shoes or the jacket as their gift?

When it comes to post-ceremony celebrations combining parties is the perfect way to split the costs. Your kids will love to spend the day with their friends and you get to share the expense of food and entertainment.

Some classes choose to hold a joint party at a local hotel. A big group can negotiate a better deal for a set menu or buffet and jointly book a DJ or entertainer.

If something smaller is your preference you can still share the day with one or two of your child’s friends. A barbecue or buffet at home doesn’t have to cost the earth and the ever-present bouncy castle can be hired between you.

Tesco has a range of partyware to cater for those hosting Communion celebrations at home including party poppers, confetti, balloons priced from €1.65.

They have disposable tableware in white, pink and blue colour options to make life easier. When it comes to the food share the burden as much as possible — ask family and friends to bring a dish each.

Lasagnes, soups, salads and cold meats — simple menus are budget-friendly and easier to prepare and dish up on the day. Kids love a barbecue — just have a back-up plan ready in case the unpredictable Irish weather strikes.

Another bugbear for parents can be gifts for the other children in the class. Families are spending enough on their own celebrations without the added pressure of giving money to all the classmates so address this issue ahead of time.

If you can get an agreement that no parents will give cash to other children, great. But if people are reluctant to agree or you fear some parents will turn up with cards on the day why not agree to buy a card for each child in the class and get all the kids to sign them.

Then each family puts €10 in so all children get one class card with the same amount.

Aldi will have charity communion cards on sale from April 3 for €1.49 each. 25c from the sale of each card will be donated to the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

MAKING CENTS: Plan to avoid the pressure on Communion day

If you decide to host a Communion at home, or just fancy some alfresco dining this summer — Aldi will have the perfect deal for you this week.

They will be selling a three burner gas barbecue for a very impressive €129.99.

The barbecue comes on trolley wheels for easy transportation — with double doors, two foldable side shelves and six hooks for accessories.

There is a thermometer built into the lid, an electric ignition, cooking grid, warming rack, and galvanised grease pan. So no excuse for any burnt-but-raw-in-the-middle offerings.

It comes with a three-year guarantee.

The barbecue goes on sale on Thursday, April 7.

It is the lead item in a range of garden accessories and outdoor furniture so you can get yourself fully prepared for long evenings in the summer sunshine.


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